In Praise of Government (1 of 3 branches, anyway)

Conservatives are discouraged right now. Both houses of Congress hold large Democrat majorities, and their left-leaning agenda is being aided by President Obama – who, even with an incomplete staff, has changed enough policies and made enough statements to set aflame an entirely new grassroots movement.

For all the talk of “government takeover,” there remains a third branch of government doing an admirable job of defending the Constitution: the Judiciary. Now I know the right wing loves to get worked up about activist judges, specifically the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. In many cases, they have a point.

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To a casual observer like myself, the Supreme Court is a lean operation with a laser-sharp focus on its mission. Congress and the White House, with their bloated budgets and legions of staff members, could learn a thing or two from the highest court in our land. When I visited SCOTUS recently, I found the experience simple, educational and even somewhat boring (which a government building should be, right?)

Back to why the Court is important… Sitting on the Supreme Court are justices whom I trust more than most of our legislators. John Roberts and Clarence Thomas are two men with vastly different styles – though both possessing unquestionable wisdom and deep interest in staying true to America’s founding principles. Word has it we should also be applauding Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, whose opinions are consistently constructed on the Constitution.

C-SPAN has produced a new series called The Supreme Court, which includes hour-long interviews with each justice. Everything C-SPAN does is available online for free, so I definitely encourage you to check out this series.

In working my way through the C-SPAN series, including the Interviews (iTunes link here), I started with the Roberts and Thomas episodes:

Interview with Chief Justice John Roberts

Interview with Justice Clarence Thomas

At the same time, a discerning friend encouraged me to “immediately” go read the autobiography of Clarence Thomas. I’m glad I did – that story My Grandfather’s Son tells of a current-day American hero if ever there was one. More about this best-selling book soon.

Talk radio will keep yelling and of course there is room for some concern (justices Kennedy and Scalia may be nearing retirement age.) Looking at the big picture, the Supreme Court continues to be founded solidly on the rule-of-law and responsibility to America’s highest ideals.

From its inception, the Court was one of few government building programs to ever come in under budget. Today, that tradition continues under Chief Justice John Roberts – who has called for greater compensation for the Judicial branch while also implementing cost-saving measure throughout the court system.

It’s how you play the game, they say in sports. The Supreme Court makes winners and losers in every case. And on the Court we see both ultra-liberals and strong conservatives represented. What’s impressive is how they all stand together and respect each other, despite their difference. It’s how politics should be.

In-depthU.S. News and World Report ran an article in 2008 entitled “The Politics of Supreme Court Justices,” well worth reading. You may be interested in Alliance Defense Fund’s list of Supreme Court Victories or a similar list from the American Center for Law & Justice. If you’re looking for a highly readable blog that covers the Supreme Court, check out The Daily Writ – designed to make law easy enough for all of us to understand.

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